Playful seals make monitoring fun

Playful seals have gotten up close and personal with officers from Natural Resources Wales in the seas around Skomer Island.

NRW staff have been busy this year completing a range of underwater monitoring projects on the Skomer Marine Nature Reserve but video footage shows that’s easier said than done when the seals decide it’s time to play.

One seal decided to use an NRW diver’s surface marker buoy as a beach toy while another got friendly with a flipper.

At this time of year the seals themselves are the focus as the NRW team carry out the annual survey of Atlantic grey seal pups.

Pembrokeshire is home to 4 per cent of the UK grey seal population and around 900 pups are born there every year with more than 300 pups born on the Skomer reserve alone.

Philip Newman, Marine Nature Reserve Officer said:

“The population of grey seals around Pembrokeshire is the largest in south-west Britain and are an important feature of the Skomer Marine Nature Reserve, so it’s important for us to keep a check on the numbers to see how they’re doing.”

Between August and the end of November the pups are visited regularly and each individual’s development is recorded from birth until its familiar white coat moults to reveal its first adult coat – a process which takes around three weeks.

Philip added:

“The seas around Skomer are teeming with wildlife and the seals are among the most popular residents.

“Not only are they an important part of the reserve’s marine ecosystem but they are also important to the local economy, helping to attract visitors to the area.”

The results of the survey will be available early next year.

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